National EMS Week – Understanding the Value of EMS


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May 20-26, 2012 is National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week, in honor of the dedicated EMS professionals who serve citizens every day. According to a press release by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 36 million people received treatment from EMS professionals in 2011.

If you were one of them, you have a sense of the challenging work these men and women perform, and an appreciation for the care they provided. Less than 10% of the U.S. population receives out-of-hospital medical care from EMS each year; therefore,most have little idea of the sophistication of our country’s EMS system.

EMS agencies work closely with other emergency response agencies – including police, fire, and 9-1-1 communications – to provide rapid medical care and safe transportation to those who are ill or injured. They also play a significant role in our nation’s response to natural and man-made disasters. If you are involved in a car accident, house fire, experience a medical emergency, or are evacuated to an emergency shelter, you will likely find yourself being cared for by one of these highly-trained professionals. For medical conditions, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and Paramedics can provide most of the initial and subsequent treatments that an emergency department would. For traumatic injuries, their primary responsibility is to immediately perform interventions that correct life-threatening conditions and then provide rapid transportation to the hospital for definitive care, while managing the patient’s pain.

The clinical sophistication of EMS can only be utilized once the underlying cause(s) of the patient’s condition has been determined. That process begins during the 9-1-1 call-taking process and is continued by the EMTs and Paramedics at the patient’s side. Sometimes it is simple to identify the cause of the problem, but other times, even with all of their skill and diagnostic equipment, it can be difficult. Because many conditions are difficult to diagnose without having access to an individual’s medical history, additional information provided to EMS can enable them to perform life-saving interventions more rapidly, which will positively impact the patient’s outcome.

I have been involved in EMS since 1993, licensed as a Paramedic since 1999 and have had the opportunity to oversee several EMS agencies in a few different states. I can attest to the value of dispatch information to EMS providers in the field. While many 9-1-1 callers are capable of giving sufficient information for EMS response, I recall many situations where that was not the case. Consider the child caller whose mother has just collapsed or a diabetic who is disoriented due to dangerously low blood glucose levels.

Prior to joining the team at Rave Mobile Safety, I helped oversee a 9-1-1 agency in the Atlanta area. During the start-up of that operation, I was made aware of Smart911 – a unique and sophisticated way to provide critical information to emergency call takers and responders at the time of the 9-1-1 call. Citizens simply create free, private and secure Safety Profile at www.Smart911.com and should they have to call 9-1-1 from any phone number associated with their profile, their information becomes available to call takers and emergency responders.

It’s the information contained in a Smart911 Profile that benefits the individual in need of assistance – medical information, apartment complex access codes or locations of hidden keys, emergency contact information, and so much more information can all be shared. By providing these details, you are assisting rescuers in responding to you more quickly and appropriately in your time of need.

If you have the opportunity to this week, thank an EMT or a Paramedic for the vital service that they provide to the public. If you would like, you can Tweet your appreciation using the #EMSWeek hashtag or post a note on our Facebook wall for EMS providers to see. While you’re at it, create your free Safety Profile …it may just save your life.

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